The Los Angeles Lakers lost 119-112 in a hard-fought, up-and-down contest against the New Orleans Pelicans, but the result of the game doesn’t mean their promising rookies like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma are any less promising, or that Jordan Clarkson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can’t help them look even better.
That’s exactly what happened in the Lakers’ second loss of the year, as Ball had the second-most assists by a Lakers’ rookie ever (13), tied with Magic Johnson, who did it twice. Norm Nixon had 14 in one game as a rookie.
Kuzma kept showing he’s far more valuable than the average late-first rounder while to continuing to shake off a disappointing first game with 20 points of his own off of the bench.
Clarkson led the team in scoring with 24 as he exhibits his newfound comfort as the team’s lead option off the bench, while Caldwell-Pope chipped in 20 of his own in his regular season debut.
The team may not have won, but their chippy effort impressed a certain superstar on the opposing side, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Anthony Davis complimented Zo, JC, KCP, & Kuz postgame. Then said: “They’re going to be a good team. I can’t wait to see where they end up."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) October 23, 2017
Could Anthony Davis just be the latest superstar to drop into Los Angeles offering seemingly-mandatory platitudes about the promise of the team’s young core? Perhaps. His comments certainly don’t mean Davis (who can’t be a free agent until the summer of 2020 at the earliest) signing with the Lakers is imminent.
What they could possibly confirm is that the Lakers competing this year is not simply for their fans’ benefit after several years of new lows for the franchise. The play of these young players is basically an advertisement to the rest of the league, a season-long tourism spot for Los Angeles and how much fun it could be to play with players like Ball and Kuzma under Luke Walton.
The Lakers will have to win a few games along the way, but if they leave opponents looking at guys like Clarkson and Caldwell-Pope and seeing how much better players like Kuzma and (especially) Ball are making them at such a young age? Eventually, a few of them may decide it looks fun enough to switch sidelines.